Cheap Travel

Hit the Road Jack

‘How do you know if a hippie has been staying in your house?

He’s still there.’

All in all it’s a strange exchange to stay in someone’s house. On the plus side of sofa surfing you get a free place to stay whilst your hosts get some company and someone to tell all their problems to. After listening to the excruciating details of your host’s love life, you might be left wondering if you’d be better off renting your own place.

The beauty of sofa surfing though is that you’re given access to people’s lives and get to see what they’re like when they take off their masks. When you meet people socially they’re often performing to a certain extent but within their own homes you’ll see them in all their moods. It’s like being a student of humanity.

Every time you arrive to a new house you have new book and CD collections to peruse and new kitchen cupboards to plunder. There are new pets to befriend and neighbours to regard you suspiciously. It’s like journeying through new, domestic worlds and is one of the best ways to learn about the nuts and bolts of a new culture. Like places where each member of the household has their own bottle of soya sauce with their name written on it.

Then comes the question of for how long are you welcome. Occasionally you’ll be told when you arrive how long it’s cool to stay for but most times it’s pretty vague for both parties. You can be brave and raise the matter yourself or else simply blend into your surroundings like a chameleon and hope that no one notices you.

Everyone feels better though when it’s out in the open and you don’t have to tiptoe around the place like a burglar. On the other hand if you have nowhere to go then you’re best off timing your excursions into town so that you hardly ever see each other.

If in doubt, remember that the universal rule is that 3 nights are considered sufficient time to restore the health of the traveller and put him on his way. In Sikh temples in India food and accommodation will be given for three days and the Bedouin in the Arabian deserts will do likewise. Even in Germany they say that ‘guests are like fish – after three days they begin to smell’.

All together now:

“Hit the road, Jack

And don’t you come back no more, no more, no more…”